Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan treated his social media followers to another apparent anti-Semitic rant last week, declaring, "Jesus died because he was 2,000 years too soon to bring about the end of the civilization of the Jews" on both Facebook and Twitter. Neither platform has seen fit to remove his controversial posts.
Farrakhan has a long history of making inflammatory remarks, yet his comments have evidently lost their shock value. The minister's continuing presence on platforms that purport to regulate "hate speech" is a curious case, given the reasons the same platforms have used for banning other users or removing their posts.
What did he say this time?
A snippet from one of Farrakhan's recent speeches was posted for the preacher's 1.1 million Facebook followers and pinned to his 335,000-strong Twitter account on March 30, with the message: "God does not love this world. God never sent Jesus to die for this world. Jesus died because he was 2,000 years too soon to bring about the end of the civilization of the Jews. He never was on no cross. There was no Calvary for that Jesus."
As of this writing, both posts remain — met with a shrug from Facebook and Twitter, who have punished other users for violating their own definitions of "hate" speech, which a reasonable person would likely find far less offensive.
How do his comments compare?
A few weeks ago, a reporter from The Daily Caller was suspended from Twitter after posting "Learn to code," joking about a phrase deemed as "threatening" to laid-off journalists. Twitter confirmed to Reason that the quip was, indeed, prohibited because it was part of a "targeted harassment campaign."
Feminist journalist Meghan Murphy is currently suing Twitter over repeated suspensions and an eventual ban after she referred to a transgender woman as a "he." She previously said that "women aren't men." According to National Review, Murphy's ban was due to Twitter's prohibition of "targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals."
As for Facebook, 2016 Libertarian presidential candidate and current radio show host Austin Petersen was banned from the platform Wednesday after saying, "Never let a crisis go to waste," reportedly in response to New Zealand's gun laws. Peterson was notified that his post "goes against our Community Standards."
The site also banned Jewish-Australian conservative Avi Yemini after he exposed Comedy Central comedian Jim Jefferies for manipulating an interview by editing Yemini's answers. Facebook didn't give specifics, yet again citing its community standards. In spite of Jefferies himself making digs at Muslim and Jewish culture in the unedited version of the clip, Jefferies remains on Facebook.
This writer's perspective
It's worth noting that Twitter decided Farrakhan did go too far when he boasted of "thoroughly and completely unmasking the Satanic Jew and the Synagogue of Satan" back in June and stripped him of the coveted "verified" account status. But the platform was OK with the preacher comparing Jewish people to termites, only months later.
Regulating speech is a tricky thing and a bold — impossible — initiative. Yet, the fact that Facebook and Twitter allow such a high-profile antagonist a pass while tamping down others speaks volumes about the failure of their policing measures.